Smash community lashes out at Nintendo for canceling Smash World Tour
Nintendo has asked Smash World Tour to cease operating right before the Championships, leaving pros and organizers enraged.
Just days away from the Smash World Tour Championships, Nintendo has forced the Smash World Tour to cease operations immediately.
When the Smash World Tour was announced, the Smash community applauded finally having an organized tournament circuit with major cash on the line. In 2022, Smash World Tour had over 6,400 live events all over the world, with the now-canceled Championships set to have a $250,000 prize pool — the largest in Smash history. But now the Championships and the 2023 Smash World Tour circuit are being canceled.
According to SWT's official statement, they were told the night before Thanksgiving that they could no longer operate by none other than Nintendo. While the competitive Smash community has had a love-hate relationship with Nintendo for two decades, Smash World Tour stated that they felt they had a good relationship with the company over the past year, which made the news all the more shocking.
SWT went on to explain that Nintendo refused to speak with the circuit organizers directly even after they sent Nintendo multiple letters asking for direct communication.
What happened to the Smash World Tour?
Nintendo and the esports organization Panda Global announced a partnership in 2021, revealing its own tournament circuit. Smash World Tour believed they would be shut down around that time but it seemed like Nintendo was in support of both circuits running simultaneously. On a call, Nintendo even told SWT that the partnership was "not exclusive."
"That lengthy conversation changed our perspective on Nintendo at a macro level; it was incredibly refreshing to talk to multiple senior team members and clear the air on a lot of miscommunications and misgivings in the years prior," Smash World Tour wrote. "We explained why so many in the community were hesitant to reach out to Nintendo to work together, and we truly believed Nintendo was taking a hard look at their relationship with the community, and ways to get involved in a positive manner."
Nintendo did request that the 2022 Smash World Tour announcement be held off, however. The aim was to get licensed before the tour was announced to kick off in March. During that time, SWT continued to talk with Nintendo, writing that the company seemed "transparent" and "direct" at that time. Still, they responded slow to SWT's license application, and they ended up forging onward without it.
Meanwhile, however, many tournament organizers had been allegedly told by Panda's CEO Alan Bunney that Smash World Tour was getting shut down. For this reason, some were afraid of joining the 2022 lineup. SWT was confused, since this contradicted their earlier conversations with Nintendo. Nintendo reassured them, however, that the two circuits would be co-existing.
"Unfortunately, the attempts from Panda to undermine the Smash World Tour did not stop, as the CEO continued to tell organizers we were definitely not coming back in 2022, and if we did, we’d get shut down shortly after announcement," SWT continued. "Furthermore, organizers were told that their individual events would also be at risk if they were on the Smash World Tour."
As the Panda Cup continued to recruit events, the CEO allegedly kept telling SWT that they were getting shut down. He also added that events that participated in the Panda Cup would not be allowed on the SWT, which went against Nintendo and SWT's previous no-exclusivity arrangement.
When Beyond the Summit declined getting involved in Panda Cup's broadcasting, Bunney "escalated things quickly." He allegedly made threats to Beyond the Summit but BTS held firm. Bunney said he would get Nintendo directly involved at this point.
This alarmed Smash World Tour, who told Nintendo their concerns. They were once again reassured. Smash World Tour kept Nintendo in the loop as they prepared their submission for the Championships event and even wondered if the name should be changed. The proposal was submitted in April of 2022.
By the time the Panda Cup was officially announced in May, SWT noticed that Nintendo slowed communication. They kept pushing back the Championships announcement in hopes that Nintendo would stay friendly with them. But after no response for months, the Championships had to be announced, which Nintendo allegedly said was understandable.
It reached November. At this point, it had been seven months since SWT submitted the application. The Championships was a month away.
"Finally, last Wednesday evening (November 23rd), we had our most recent call with Nintendo. Our Nintendo rep opened by letting us know that they are being asked to deliver the news that, going forward, Nintendo expects us to only operate with a commercial license, and that we would not be granted one for the upcoming Championships, or any activity in 2023. We received this in writing as well," SWT stated.
They asked for more details, but Nintendo was unable to be specific. After months of reassuring them that everything would be fine, Smash World Tour was quite frustrated. They asked to run the Championships and 2023's circuit, and then work with them in 2024. But Nintendo said that it was "over."
"This was the final nail in the coffin given our very particular relationship with Nintendo. This is when we realized it truly was all being shut down for real. We asked if they understood the waves that would be made if we were forced to cancel, and Nintendo communicated that they were indeed aware," Smash World Tour continued.
Smash World Tour stated that they felt Nintendo may not have been aware of all that was happening behind the scenes throughout the year. They are hoping the company will reconsider. Unfortunately, the communication has become secretive and confusing like it was in the past.
It's safe to say that the pros that were waiting for the Championships as well as other prominent people within the competitive community were angry with Nintendo. This is far from the first time that Nintendo has attempted to cancel various Smash esports events. But many in the scene also felt backstabbed by Panda, an esports org that they previously felt had the scene's best interest in mind.
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Olivia Richman is a seasoned esports writer and editor who enjoys creating unique content about Smash, Apex Legends, Halo, Rainbow Six Extraction, Call of Duty, and basically every other game! Olivia enjoys the Pokemon TCG, Kirby, and being a persuasive thief in Fallout and Outer Worlds.